This month we're going to look at one of the biggest causes of having
a cluttered life - being a sentimental hoarder. Is your home overflowing
with photos, kids' artwork, Christmas cards going back years, holiday
souvenirs, every gift you've ever been given (even the ones you can't
stand), your old college notes and so much more?
It's part of being human to want to hold onto our treasures - the first
pair of baby shoes, the menu from your wedding, a photo that makes you
smile and reminds you of great times. I truly believe that memories and
sentimentality play a vital role in all our lives. Someone recently asked
me if I thought it was sad to hold onto her baby's first pair of pyjamas.
Of course it's not. But........ the problems really start when you find
yourself becoming sentimentally attached to almost everything and the
things you really love get lost and forgotten under a pile of clutter.
So your challenge this month is to be sentimental but selective. You are
going to edit your possessions and store some of them in a special memory
box and honour others by displaying and using them. Think of it as keeping
the edited highlights of your life.
The Memory box
If you don't already have one - go out and buy the most beautiful storage
box you can find. Make sure it is big enough to hold your treasures. Clients
often joke that they need a whole room! You'll want to keep it close to
hand so you can enjoy looking though your memorabilia whenever the mood
strikes. Keep only cards and letters that have special meaning to you.
There is no rule in the universe that says you have to keep every birthday
card you receive or essays you wrote 20 years ago. Don't feel guilty -
enjoy the feeling of liberation.
Make a box for each of your kids when they are little so you can keep
favourite memories. When they are older they can decide what goes in.
I know storage has eased now we're in the era of digital photography but
most of us still have boxes and boxes of unsorted photos. Get a crate
or cardboard box and gather them all together in one place. Think of yourself
as a professional photographer and chuck out any that are out-of-focus,
endless duplicates or snaps of people you can't even remember! With Christmas
looming, why not send some spares to friends and family along with the
Christmas card. Make montages. Have fun with them. Change the photos you
have out on display for a fresh feel to your home.
Use the heat
test to help you work out what is clutter and what is treasure. But
always remember it's your home so lighten the atmosphere by only keeping
things that have good associations and remind you of happy times in your
the Clutter Clinic
"I find that I am so easily distracted when I set about clearing
my hoards that I never get very far. Are there any tips for keeping my
scatty mind on the job and not getting caught up in distractions so that
the job is never finished?"
It's so easy to get sidetracked and distracted when you are clearing clutter.
See if these ideas help you to stay focused.
- First write down what you are trying to achieve and how much time
- Start small and simple so aim to sort out one bookshelf or your gym
bag rather than your whole bedroom.
- Be realistic - we all have a tendency to underestimate how long jobs
- Make sure you have all the rubbish bags and boxes you need before
- Turn off the phone, computer and TV.
- Put anything that belongs in another room by the door and rehome them
all at the end.
- Use a timer and set it for 10 minutes - make sure you are still on
track with the task when it goes off.
- Finish a job before starting a new one.
your questions for the clutter clinic at email@example.com
October's Competition results
Thank you to everyone who wrote in with their amusing stories and inspiring
clutter triumphs. It was hard to choose but my favourite this month is
Karen for her funny entry. She wins lavender balls from the White
"I am shortly off to New York and will undoubtedly do some
shopping. You reminded me that I must throw a whole load of stuff out
before I bring back anything new!
family has lived abroad quite a lot so I am used to packing up house.
However, what does one do with a husband who loves to hang on to everything?
I'm sure many people feel that books must never be thrown away, but what
about your little brothers' (now 43) school blazer? Or beat this, the
box of dried water buffalo dung collected in Sri Lanka 22 years ago? Oh
yes my husband did research in the Wildlife Parks there for a thesis and
since then this box of little plastic bags of dried dung has followed
us from house to house to house. In 2 years we are moving to France and
I refuse to be followed by his detritus any longer! Thanks for your help
Win a Pack-Mate
Household Vacusac - 2 piece set
Pack-Mate storage bags are ideal for vacuum-packing and storing away out
of season clothes or bedding. If any of you haven't seen them in action
yet - it's magical to see how much space it saves once all the air is
sucked out. I use them at home for my duvets and spare blankets
To win them send in your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
on sorting out your sentimental stuff, your photos or what's in your memory
box. I'd also love to hear your suggestions for minimising clutter at
Sue Kay works
with a wide range of clients to organise home offices, small businesses,
declutter before a house move, prepare your spare room for a new baby
and organise your wardrobe ready for the new season. If you're selling
your home, she can help you present it clutter-free for the market to
achieve a quick and profitable sale. For practical sympathetic help call
Sue on 07974 076 675 or 020 8444 5149 or check out the website at www.nomoreclutter.co.uk